Andrew Cherlin's article "To boost marriage, boost the economy" (Dec. 28, Page A-11) claiming that an improved economy will save the institution of marriage is a sophisticated use of statistics to obscure a very simple truth.
Marriage thrived in the poorest communities of our nation from its founding until the middle of the 20th century. Our economy has had many periods of prosperity and recession over the past decades. But the overall health of the institution of marriage has not tracked these fluctuations.
The steady decline of marriage is almost a mirror image of the rise of the welfare state. As the various functions of families have been replaced by state agencies, marriage has become increasingly obsolete. In the society planned by Cherlin and other enlightened academicians, traditional families are replaced with cohabiting relationships where the only obligatory job that has not been farmed out to the state is that of making babies.